However you put it, the fear of man can be summarized this way: We replace God with people. Instead of a biblically guided fear of the Lord, we fear others.
Of course, the “fear of man” goes by other names. When we are in our teens, it is called “peer pressure.” When we are older, it is called “people-pleasing.” Recently, it has been called “codependency.” With these labels in mind, we can spot the fear of man everywhere.
The problem is clear: People are too big in our lives and God is too small. The answer is straightforward: We must learn to know that our God is more loving and more powerful than we ever imagined. Yet this task is not easy. Even if we worked at the most spectacular of national parks, or the bush in our backyard started burning without being consumed, or Jesus appeared and wrestled a few rounds with us, we would not be guaranteed a persistent reverence of God. Too often our mountain-top experiences are quickly overtaken by the clamor of the world, and God once again is diminished in our minds. The goal is to establish a daily tradition of growing in the knowledge of God.
Edward T. Welch, MDiv, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He earned a PhD in counseling (neuropsychology) from the University of Utah and has a Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary. Ed has been counseling for over thirty years and has written extensively on the topics of depression, fear, and addictions. His biblical counseling books include Shame Interrupted; When People Are Big and God Is Small; Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave; Depression: A Stubborn Darkness; Crossroads: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Addiction; Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest; and When I Am Afraid: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Fear and Anxiety; Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love; and A Small Book about a Big Problem: Meditations on Anger, Patience, and Peace.
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